9th March 2009

Obama and Infrastructure of the Mind

posted in `Roids |

January 20, 2009, marked a day which will forever be etched in the minds of those who had the privilege of witnessing it. A significant part of American history transpired: Barack Obama became the first half-black man to be sworn in as President of the United States since Warren G. Harding. As a privileged, Jewish Yale graduate who grew up as a dirt-poor black boy, I was very excited for this momentous occasion.

I was moved as Aretha Franklin, a once fiery soul singer of the 60’s, sang as only a now sweet, grandmotherly type could (and with a bedazzled hat to boot!). And who could forget the poetry? Oof! The fucking poetry. I thought Maya Angelou was bad enough. Where’d they dig up that broad? I’m happy she was able to reschedule her reading at Denny’s so she could speak at Barack’s inauguration.

But back to Obama…I listened intently to the great orator, now President, as he spoke in-depth about the building and strengthening of our “Infrastructure” – whether it be roads and bridges or jobs and the American work force, harkening back to Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930’s. And, believe me, physical infrastructure is important and the digging of ditches might have been very useful 80 years ago, but are we really expecting these laid off computer nerds, biologists and economists to be toiling away on our roads and bridges?

America needs to build and strengthen the infrastructure of our collective mind. And with that thought, it is my hope that Obama will use his bully pulpit and the treasury to emphasize the importance of teachers. If we offer teachers competitive salaries, we will attract the best and brightest minds to help develop the next generation’s best and brightest minds. Obama wants to spend $819 billion to stimulate our fledging economy. Instead of pork-barrel legislation and programs, he should give each qualified teacher a minimum salary of $125 thousand. The problem that Congress will have is their buddies can’t pocket the money – Harry Byrd can’t put his name on a teacher and collect something on the backend.

Speaking of which, Republicans recently put out a list of the wasteful provisions set forth in President Obama’s new stimulus package. Some of the gems include…

-$75 million for “smoking cessation activities.”
Thank goodness because I was worried we’d end up giving that much money to starving children and the homelessness epidemic.

-$25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.
Oddly, no funds allocated for Chicken Indian Zombies.

-$6 billion to turn federal buildings into “green” buildings.
The Troma building will gladly take a few billion to turn “green” …until then, we will continue to burn nuclear coal.

-$600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.
How about we spend a few thousand on some bikes?

-$650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program.
What the fuck do I care about a TV converter box coupon program? Television has blacklisted Troma films (save the kind, gentle souls at G4).

-$248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security Headquarters.
That rivals the $6.23 Troma spent on milk crates (i.e. chaise lounges) last year.

-$1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion.
Census is another word for a pizza party, right?

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! But I digress…
My father went through the public school system here in New York City all the way through college, never having to pay for his education. Back then, teachers were able to live a comfortable, middle-class life. And that was the WWII generation, which experienced the highest point in the American economy.

The image of the American teacher needs to change – I cannot imagine how high we could climb if teachers received even a third of the admiration that movie stars and juiced-up baseball players get. Perhaps if we start giving teachers their due, we will see a vast improvement not only in our economy, but in American life as a whole. Of course, it will take time. Thirteen years, to be exact, if we start from this day forward. And Congress may not like this idea as they and the Roman Senate won’t financially benefit from such a plan immediately. See, when we’re talking about the building of roads, they can push the contracts into their friend’s corporate pockets (see: The War in Iraq).

But Obama was on the right track when he said that we all need to pitch in and do our part if we want to make this work. So, in keeping with that, I will be attending all of PS 150’s female volleyball team home games and practices.



Lloyd Kaufman
w/ the help of Matt Lawrence

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